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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

2020 Election Live Updates: Joe Biden Picks Kamala Harris to Be His Running Mate

2020 Election Live Updates: Joe Biden Picks Kamala Harris to Be His Running Mate

In a new national poll, Mr. Biden leads President Trump by 10 points. In Minnesota, Ilhan Omar faces a stiff primary challenge, while a QAnon supporter has a shot at a Georgia House seat.


Kamala Harris is Biden’s choice for vice president.

Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr. selected Senator Kamala Harris of California as his vice-presidential running mate on Tuesday, embracing a former rival who sharply criticized him in the Democratic primaries but emerged after ending her own campaign as a vocal supporter of Mr. Biden and a prominent advocate of racial-justice legislation after the death of George Floyd in late May.

Ms. Harris, 55, is the first Black woman and the first person of Indian descent to be nominated for national office by a major party, and only the fourth woman in history to be chosen for one of their presidential tickets. She brings to the race a far more vigorous campaign style than Mr. Biden’s, including a gift for capturing moments of raw political electricity on the debate stage and elsewhere, and a personal identity and family story that many find inspiring.

Mr. Biden announced the selection over text message and in a follow-up email to supporters: “Joe Biden here. Big news: I’ve chosen Kamala Harris as my running mate. Together, with you, we’re going to beat Trump.”

After her own presidential bid disintegrated last year, many Democrats regarded Ms. Harris as all but certain to attempt another run for the White House in the future. By choosing her as his political partner, Mr. Biden may well be anointing her as the de facto leader of the party in four or eight years.

A pragmatic moderate who spent most of her career as a prosecutor, Ms. Harris was seen throughout the vice-presidential search as among the safest choices available to Mr. Biden. She has been a reliable ally of the Democratic establishment, with flexible policy priorities that largely mirror Mr. Biden’s, and her supporters argued that she could reinforce Mr. Biden’s appeal to Black voters and women without stirring particularly vehement opposition on the right or left.

After leaving the presidential race in December, Ms. Harris turned her attention back to the Senate and found new purpose amid a wave of nationwide protests this spring against racism and police brutality. She marched beside protesters and forcefully championed proposals to overhaul policing and make lynching a federal crime, often speaking with a kind of clarity that had eluded her in the presidential primaries on economic issues like health care and taxation.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

A new national poll released Tuesday shows Mr. Biden maintaining a 10-point lead over Mr. Trump, with just 4 percent of voters remaining undecided.

The poll, conducted by Monmouth University, showed Mr. Biden garnering the support of 51 percent of registered voters and Mr. Trump earning 41 percent. A small share of support went to third-party candidates and the rest were undecided.

Mr. Biden’s lead was about the same as he had in a late-June survey by the same pollster, in which Mr. Biden was ahead of Mr. Trump by 12 percentage points.

The Monmouth Poll was conducted by telephone from Aug. 6 to Aug. 10 and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

In Wisconsin, a swing state won by Mr. Trump in 2016, Mr. Biden led the president by six percentage points in a Marquette Law School poll of registered voters that was released on Tuesday.

Six percent of those polled said that they would not vote for either Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden, 3 percent were undecided and 1 percent would not disclose their choice for president.

Mr. Trump’s job approval ratings continued to slide in Wisconsin, particularly on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic — 58 percent of those polled said they disapproved of his response to the health crisis. The poll had a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.

Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

In the weeks before Minnesota’s congressional primary on Tuesday, volunteers for Representative Ilhan Omar’s re-election campaign did something highly unusual: They went door knocking.

In any other year, going door to door to speak with voters in person would be a given. But during the coronavirus pandemic, the traditional methods of identifying, organizing, persuading and turning out voters have been upended.

Some Republican campaigns, including Mr. Trump’s, have resumed in-person campaign activities. But most Democratic candidates, including Mr. Biden, have largely switched to a sort of virtual ground game to connect with voters through phone calls and text messages.

Ms. Omar’s campaign quietly returned to door-knocking in the beginning of July, with new protocols. Volunteers would wear masks. They would ring a doorbell and then step back at least six feet. They would carry safety kits that included hand sanitizer.

“There’s an element that just can’t be re-created not being in person,” said Claire Bergren, Ms. Omar’s campaign manager.

Even Ms. Omar herself briefly hit the pavement.

Her primary is in the spotlight on Tuesday, as she hopes to continue a string of victories by progressive candidates nationwide. She faces a well-financed challenge from Antone Melton-Meaux, a lawyer who has raised more than $4 million.

Ms. Omar, an unabashed progressive who has at times run afoul of some party leaders, won the support of House Democrats like Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her re-election efforts. Mr. Melton-Meaux has tried to cast her as a national lightning rod too controversial for the district.

Mr. Melton-Meaux nearly matched Ms. Omar’s fund-raising over all and outraised her in the most recent cycle, sounding alarms that the race could be closer than expected. Polls opened at 8 a.m. Eastern time and close at 9 p.m.

The race has also been transformed by the killing of George Floyd, in Ms. Omar’s district. She has been a leading voice in advocating systemic changes such as restructuring police departments, while her opponents have focused on more incremental reforms.

John Bailey/The Rome News-Tribune, via Associated Press

The Republican Party is going to find out just how big a QAnon problem it has on Tuesday when a primary runoff is decided in a northwest Georgia district, where polls opened at 7 a.m. Eastern time.

The favorite in the race in the 14th Congressional District is Marjorie Taylor Greene, a gun-rights activist who is an unabashed supporter of QAnon, a fringe group that has been pushing a convoluted pro-Trump conspiracy theory. Lined up against her is John Cowan, a physician who is no less conservative or pro-Trump, but who does not believe QAnon’s theory that there is a “deep state” of child-molesting Satanist traitors plotting against the president. The winner is a near lock to be elected to Congress in the overwhelmingly Republican district.

The F.B.I. has labeled QAnon a potential domestic terrorism threat, and the conspiracy theory has already inspired real-world violence. Yet its supporters are slowly becoming a political force with more than a dozen candidates who have expressed some degree of support for the theory, running for Congress as Republicans.

Most are expected to lose. Yet all present a fresh headache for Republican leaders.

The party, while already struggling to distance itself from conspiracy theories steeped in racist and anti-Semitic messaging, also cannot afford to turn off voters who share those conspiratorial views if it hopes to retain the Senate and retake the House.

A victory for Ms. Greene would make that balancing act far harder. She has been caught in Facebook videos making a series of offensive remarks about Black people, Jews and Muslims. And unlike some other QAnon-linked candidates, she has made no effort to soft-pedal her support for the conspiracy theory. She recently called it “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out.”

Yet she nonetheless won 40 percent of the vote in the district’s Republican primary in June. Mr. Cowan won 21 percent, and the remainder of the votes were split between seven other candidates.

John Spink/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Associated Press

As voting takes place in Georgia and Wisconsin on Tuesday — polls opened at 7 a.m. Eastern in Georgia and 8 a.m. Eastern in Minnesota — attention will be on the election systems just as much as the candidates.

These two battleground states struggled to hold earlier primary elections amid the pandemic; while Tuesday’s elections will probably have lower turnout, they will still be a test of the voting apparatus.

In Wisconsin, which was the first state to hold a large, statewide election as the pandemic was surging in early April, the coronavirus is still near peak levels, but the elections system appears to be on more solid footing. One of the key causes of the long, mask-clad lines in Milwaukee in April was a shortage of poll workers, which led the city to consolidate 180 polling locations down to five.

On Tuesday, about 170 voting sites will be open in Milwaukee, or roughly 95 percent of the regular sites. The state also activated the National Guard, which will be dressed in plain clothes, to be on standby should there be any emergency shortages on Tuesday.

In Georgia, where about 60 percent of the state’s counties are holding elections, the turnout isn’t expected to reach levels at which long lines would be a problem as they were during the primary. The state’s most populous county — Fulton County — also opened an early voting location at State Farm Arena in Atlanta to help alleviate Election Day surges.

The absentee ballot deadlines, which required a ballot to arrive by close of business on Friday, remain unchanged from the primary election in June.

A Republican running for Congress in Connecticut was arrested Monday night and dropped out of the primary campaign just hours before voters went to the polls on Tuesday, the authorities and state party officials said.

The candidate, Thomas Gilmer, was charged with strangulation and unlawful restraint in connection with a “possible domestic assault,” the police in Wethersfield, a Hartford suburb, said in a statement. 

In a post on Twitter, the Connecticut Republican Party said Mr. Gilmer had ended his campaign.

Mr. Gilmer, a businessman, had won the Republican Party’s endorsement in May but faced a primary challenge today from Justin Anderson, a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard. In November, the primary winner will take on the longtime Democratic incumbent, Representative Joe Courtney, who was re-elected by a 62-to-35-percent margin in 2018.

Wethersfield Police Department

Mr. Gilmer, 29, could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday morning.

The police said they were contacted in July about the episode that led to Mr. Gilmer’s arrest. The authorities did not provide any additional details.

Gabe Rosenberg, a spokesman for Connecticut’s Secretary of State, said the office had not received formal notice of Mr. Gilmer’s withdrawal from the race as of Tuesday morning.

Thousands of absentee ballots have already been mailed out, Mr. Rosenberg said, and if Mr. Gilmer wins Tuesday’s primary, he would remain on the November ballot unless he formally withdraws.

Republicans might be able to nominate someone to replace Mr. Gilmer if he wins and withdraws, depending on the timing, Mr. Rosenberg said.

Charles Sykes/Invision, via Associated Press

The Democratic National Convention will play out like a star-studded Zoom callnext week, anchored by nightly prime-time keynote speeches, with Michelle Obama appearing on Monday, Jill Biden on Tuesday, Barack Obama on Wednesday, and Mr. Biden’s acceptance speech on Thursday, according to a schedule of events.

The convention, originally planned for Milwaukee, then forced into a cramped virtual format by the coronavirus, has been a logistical nightmare for planners who have had to grapple with wary television networks, daunting technical challenges and the omnipresent, low-grade threat of a disruption by Mr. Trump.

The schedule, provided by Democratic officials involved in the planning, above all else reflects Mr. Biden’s chief political goal: uniting the jostling progressive and establishment wings of the Democratic Party behind an elder statesman who has spent the last several months courting skeptical progressives.

The first-night schedule reflects that big-tent objective. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Mr. Biden’s main rival for the nomination — and still the standard-bearer of the populist left — has been given a keynote slot, just before Mrs. Obama speaks, and after Andrew M. Cuomo, the moderate governor of New York, delivers what is expected to be a scathing attack on Mr. Trump’s handling of the pandemic.

After the formality of a virtual delegate vote on Tuesday, Mr. Biden’s running mate will address the convention on Wednesday. As a precaution, planners have scheduled speaking times for some top vice-presidential contenders in case they are not picked, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren.

About three-quarters of all American voters will be eligible to receive a ballot in the mail for the 2020 election — the most in U.S. history, according to a New York Times analysis. If recent election trends hold and turnout increases as experts predict, roughly 80 million mail ballots will flood election offices this fall, more than double the 2016 figure.

The rapid and seismic shift can be traced to the coronavirus pandemic. Concerns about virus transmission at polling places have forced many states to make adjustments on the fly that — despite President Trump’s protests — will make mail voting in America more accessible this fall than ever before.

“I have a hard time looking back at history and finding an election where there was this significant of a change to how elections are administered in this short a time period,” said Alex Padilla, the California secretary of state and chairman of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State.

Most of the changes are temporary and have been made administratively by state and local officials, using emergency powers. Over all, 24 states and the District of Columbia have in some way expanded voter access to mail ballots for the 2020 general election. 

Doug Mills/The New York Times

After repeatedly throwing a wrench into plans for the Republican National Convention this summer, Mr. Trump on Monday tried to offer something tantalizingabout the upcoming gathering, saying that his renomination speech would take place either at the White House or the Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg, Pa.

“We will announce the decision soon!” Mr. Trump teased in a Twitter post.

It was perhaps a predictable move by the first president to be credited as an executive producer of a network reality show while sitting in office.

But whether Mr. Trump will actually deliver a nationally televised address in Gettysburg — the site of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle, a place memorialized in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln as hallowed ground — remains an open question.

The battlefield, where Mr. Trump gave an indoor campaign speech in 2016, is federal property run by the National Park Service. This presents the same ethical conundrums his re-election team will face if the president delivers the speech from the South Lawn of the White House.

In private, Mr. Trump has expressed to aides more interest in delivering his address at the White House, in part because of the ease of arranging the speech, set for Aug. 27, in a short time frame.

The president is not subject to the Hatch Act, a Depression-era law that prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activities while on the job. But everyone who works for him is. By delivering a speech with the Gettysburg battlefield as a backdrop, experts said, Mr. Trump would risk putting park rangers and other park employees at risk of a violation.

Bryan Woolston/Reuters

People with low incomes who are eligible to vote are much less likely to do so in national elections than those with higher incomes, and are more often constrained from casting ballots by transportation issues, illness or other problems out of their control, according to a study released Tuesday by the Poor People’s Campaign.

The study, by a Columbia University researcher, found that only 46 percent of potential voters with family incomes less than twice the federal poverty line voted in the 2016 presidential election, compared with 68 percent of those with family incomes above twice the poverty line.

Notwithstanding the practical hurdles lower-income voters face, the reasons voters across the economic spectrum most often cited for staying home were the same: disillusionment with the candidates, campaign issues and the political process writ large.

“They’re saying that they’re not voting because people are not speaking to their issues and that they’re just not interested in those candidates,” said the researcher, Robert Paul Hartley, an assistant professor of social work. “But it’s not that they couldn’t be.”

Though poor and low-income people turned out in large numbers in recent some state and local elections like the 2019 Kentucky governor’s race, the Rev. William J. Barber II, co-chairman of the Poor People’s Campaign, a nonpartisan coalition advocating to increase the power of the poor, said that the over 40 percent of Americans with lower incomes remained a largely untapped political force.

“The only way you can expand the electorate in this country is to expand among poor and low-wealth people,” he said.“

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